Call me crazy - but in the wake of uncertainty which looms prior to the trade deadline, Rondo won't be moved. Although he has likely let down every Celtic fan at one point or another - for some reason or another - his assets far outweigh his shortcomings. The problems which plague the Celtic team we have grown to love during the recent years supersede Rondo entirely. Rondo is frequently compared to the league's elite point guards, and subsequently his offensive abilities sometimes draw criticism. However, Rondo's purpose isn't to score on a night-in, night-out basis.
Rajon Rondo is not only more of a "pure" point guard; he is a bargain. When the big three was running on younger legs in 2008, Rondo helped bring a championship to Boston, which many take for granted. His services also brought us to within four points of a ring two years after. The five years Rondo has been the starting Celtics point guard, we have attained one ring, another finals appearance, and two other playoff appearances - nothing to sneeze at. Due to the nature of Rondo's game, when the offense is clicking, Rondo becomes more versatile. Knowing his teammates will score if and when he sets them up gives Rondo the confidence to take the ball to the rack himself if he gets the opportunity. When the team's offense dries up, Rondo has shown he can have a career night (recently against the Pistons), or look just as lackluster as the rest of the squad. However - one player scoring up a storm, as we have seen, does not win basketball games on the most elite level.
The problem is not Rondo. The root problem is that Danny Ainge has allowed the big 3 to degrade not-so-gracefully and their age has acquired the best of them. Chris Paul or Deron Williams would not be able to pull the Celtics out of the rut they currently stand in, because basketball is a team game. Not to say that we may not be in better shape with either of those two point guards, but let's not forget, Danny tried to trade Rondo for Chris Paul and even Russell Westbrook, both which failed. Given the streaky manner in which the aging big 3 have performed this season, If I was Chris Paul, I would not have entertained the possibility of coming to Boston either.
Enter the bench. It is no secret that the bench has been lackluster in recent years. An injury-riddled second unit playing with little-to-no cohesiveness does not help win basketball games. In-fact, as we have seen, it does the opposite. Last year, when the big 3 was clicking on its last cylinders, the bench would enter the game and destroy whatever lead the starters had built. Doc would shake his head, and the starters would re-enter the game to get it back, only to end up playing more minutes than their old legs could handle. It quickly became evident towards the end of the season that the starters could not carry the team's entire workload on their back, which led to an end-of-season decline in standings and ultimately a disheartening loss to the Heat in the 2011 semifinals. If the starters alone were not capable of keeping the team afloat against admirable opponents last year, how can we expect Rondo to do it by himself this year? Remember the Mavericks bench last year, anyone? We have seen first-hand how excellent bench play can supplement a veteran front-line and produce a championship. Unfortunately for the Celtics, they have been missing their second half for quite awhile.
There is another cause of our beloved Celtic's demise which is rather hard to overlook as of late. We have been ailing at the 5 position since Kendrick Perkins went down in the 2010 finals. Yes, we had Kendrick for some time after that, but that is when Boston first felt the pangs of being without a solid center that could perform the basic duties of plugging the floor and grabbing defensive (and ideally offensive) boards on a nightly basis. Danny's gambles on Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal proved unsuccessful, and as a result, we have been playing a lot of small-ball ever since Perkins was traded. Please don't interpret this as discontent with the Perkins trade - I thought Jeff Green had potential, and Perkins wanted more than what he was worth. Even if we didn't trade him, he would not have been resigned here for the money he would have asked after last season. May as well have gotten some pieces for him before he walked. Danny is not an idiot.
Rebuilding around Rondo makes all the sense in the world. If/when Rondo is once again surrounded by younger legs and an enthusiastic team which knows Doc's system, he will flourish as he did when the big 3 still had some fight left in them. Not to say those guys aren't still capable of having big games, they just have them less frequently. This season is almost the inverse of last - the bench is showing improvement, and the starters have been digging 20 point holes (against good teams) in the first half (and sometimes quarter) of any given ballgame. We have yet to see what Rondo can do if paired up with young talent that is not only capable of running the floor, but enthusiastic about doing it. Can you imagine Rondo and DeAndre Jordan playing together? I know it won't happen, but point illustrated nonetheless. Rondo may as well be throwing oops to front-row fans right now (Wilcox's efforts aside).
I like Avery Bradley and how he is developing, but envisioning him starting on a nightly basis makes me cringe. Bradley is much better suited as a backup to Rondo. Rondo knows Doc's system, and though a lot of fans here wish to see him traded, they don't actually envision what this team would be like WITHOUT him. Take a good hard look at what he does for the team, and you may be dissuaded.
The only scenario I see Rondo departing from Boston, is if he is involved in a package centered around Dwight Howard. Not directly, but if Dwight agreed to come here playing alongside Deron Williams, then a Rondo move would be more likely. However, as many realize, that situation is not entirely plausible as Howard seems most intent on playing with the Nets or the Mavericks. Otherwise, in my opinion, when the big 3 is broken up, Ray will be the first to go. KG would likely draw little worthwhile interest. Call me crazy, but the captain may be shipped out as well, given he still retains some value, the amount of years he has left on the books, and Danny's motivation to clear them.
Also - trading Rondo for Pau Gasol is probably one of the stupidest possibilities on the table for (what should be) very obvious reasons.